Vichy France 3

Vichy France Part III


According to shopareview, the basic platform of this fluctuating position is the relationship with the US, the keystone of which lies in the activity of Admiral W. Leahy, credited to Vichy by Roosevelt on November 23, 1940 and remained there until May 1, 1942. Montoire did not have followed up on the contact made in London by Professor L. Rougier on the basis of mutual respect for the status quo of the French colonies; now the negotiations resume between Lord Halifax and M. Chevalier and, under Flandin, the Marchal-Eccles convention is carried out in Madrid, in January 1941, which practically suspends the English naval blockade between North Africa and Marseille. With the US the opening of new American consulates in Tunisia and Algeria and (February 26, 1941) the personal agreement Weygand-Murphy on the delivery of supplies to be left in Africa was soon realized. However, fluctuating relations and not anti-Axis, since collaboration always exists, and Germany tolerates them by serving its lion’s share of food arrivals made possible by the suspension of the English blockade. After all, a tightening of the screw is always possible: in fact, on 10 February, Flandin is fired.

Again, now, is the race for collaboration: on April 18, 1941 there is the symbolic withdrawal of France from the League of Nations, on May 11 Darlan’s trip to Berchtesgaden. It is the Syrian chessboard, by now, which – after the victories in the Balkans – is pressing Hitler; the “May protocols”, concluded in Paris on 28 between Darlan and W. Warlimont, grant the control of the entire French economy by Reich commissioners, the opening of the Syrian airfields to Axis aircraft, the use to their ships in the ports of Bizerte, Casablanca and Dakar, and foresee the rearmament of the colonies in view of a war against England. The agreements are not ratified perhaps due to the energetic opposition of Weygand, who rushed from Algiers (later, reinforcements for the Libyan front will pass through Tunisia) and from this adventure Vichy comes out with the loss of Syria and Lebanon, conquered by the English and degollist forces from 8 June to 14 July 1941 (armistice of St. John of Acre). Collaboration, however, was already taken for granted, especially on the domestic level, where the appointment of Pucheu to the Ministry of the Interior (July 19, 1941) marks a police force that has been brought up to speed with Germany (creation of special courts on August 14, and of the was September 17). This policy is favored by Hitler’s attack on the USSR (21 June) and his initial victories: on 30 June Darlan expels the Soviet ambassador A. Bogomolov, while J. Darnand and J. Doriot try to set up an anti-Bolshevik legion, to which Pétain himself gives his support. On 12 August, then, a message from the marshal calls for the end of the provisional and the creation of more stable ties with Germany and Italy. Meanwhile, the new eastern front has shifted interest from the Mediterranean, and this explains how Vichy – especially in the months of August and September 1941 – had time to devote itself to its internal pseudo-reforms, such as the suppression of the General Councils, which had long been designated and no longer elected, the promulgation, on October 27, of a Labor Charter, largely due to Lucien Romier and which, in contrast to the Belin decree of August 16, 1940 on organizing committees, creates professional corporations based on the trade union unique and mandatory.

But soon this papier-mâché scenario collapsed: relations with the Axis reactivated (Pétain’s meeting with H. Goering in Saint FlorentinVerginy on 1 December 1941, Darlan-Ciano conversation on 10 December in Turin), and finally, on 18 April 1942, preceded by a mysterious interview with the marshal in the thick of the Randan forest (March 26), Laval returns to the government: the dignity of “dolphin” always remains with Darlan, who is at the same time head of the armed forces and as such at direct dependencies of the Head of State, but Laval now has the title and powers of “head of government”.

After April 18, 1942, there are no longer any obstacles to collaboration: in his speech of June 22, Laval wishes the German victory, shortly afterwards with the gauleiter France Sauckel he finalizes the law of September 4, 1942 relating “to the use and orientation of the workforce “, which on February 16, 1943 becomes the compulsory conscription of workers for Germany and finds its agents in the henchmen of the Milice française (January 30, 1943), which, under Darnand’s orders, has nothing to envy to the his sisters. Laval’s triumph also marks the beginning of the internal Vichy crisis; Stalingrad favors personal evolutions and these precipitate with the allied landing in November 1942 in Africa; a sensational case among all that of Darlan himself.

November 8, 1942 is the capital turning point in French history: not only the Vichy regime – with the Empire’s return to war and the self-sinking of the fleet in Toulon (November 27) – loses the only cards of its game and empties himself of any actual content (17 Pétain delegates his signature to Laval, but even this is surpassed by the ultra-collaborators; the Germans do not give any weight to his offer to enter the war alongside the Axis, as he proposed at the end November in a letter to Hitler); but with the total occupation of France, which took place on 11 November, the end of the French split is achieved – contrary to the intention of the actors. From this moment there is the possibility of a united front of resistance and the history of France moves entirely in this field.

Vichy France 3